In this article we will talk about Mahōtsukai no Yoru. If you are not accustomed to Nasuverse follow the link and enjoy reading.
1995 was a decisive year for the Japanese animation industry. As many fans will already know, in fact, in that year a phenomenon would have started whose impact has shaken and influenced widely all subsequent productions causing a deep rift in the sector and bringing out today's subculture souls, as well as pushing the productions towards a cinematographic directorial approach, a serial model and, in general, open many authors to different sources of inspiration and use of their characters.
The NGE series
It was October 4th of that year when, for the first time, TV Tokyo aired the first episode of the latest effort co-developed by the Tatsunoko and Gainax studios, directed by Hideaki Year: Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Among the many creatives deeply shaken by the work, as you can guess, we find the young Kinoko Nasu who, in the face of what was transmitted, found himself greatly impressed and inspired to the point of deciding to write an entire manuscript.
What resulted, at the expense of its late publication, was the first work ever written to lay the foundations of what would become the Nasuverse: a 400-page novel that the author did not believe he could surpass for at least a decade titled Mahōtsukai no Yoru (abbreviated as Mahoyo).
Abandonment and return
The young Nasu had difficulty in giving visibility to his work, failing in the attempt both to participate in writing competitions and to have the work published by a publishing house because of the difficulty in being able to reduce the number of pages to 350, ending with print it only five copies of the original writing, passed mainly in the author's circle of friends.
Although Takeuchi had illustrated some of the characters on his personal blog, the difficulties, obstacles and dead ends encountered led the work to be put aside to allow Nasu to devote himself to different projects, which we have already had the opportunity to know.
The unexpected growth of Type-Moon, however, led Takeuchi to reconsider Mahōtsukai no Yoru, especially after the success of Tsukihime and Fate / stay night, who had proven Nasu's ability as a visual novelist through their success.
In 2008 Nasu publicly announced that he was working on a new visual novel, for the first time in the history of the non-eroge genre company (at this point, in fact, it was no longer necessary to secure the hold on the public), which would see the light however, only four years later, in 2012, when it was finally released accompanied by the main vocal theme of the title by the pop band supercell and titled Hoshi ga Matataku Konna Yoru ni.
Set in the late 80s, many elements of Mahoyo will be familiar to us: the work, as the first true creation of the Nasuverse, has in fact some characteristics that would then have been destined to be used in other works by Nasu, giving a certain sense familiar with this work, although it is actually independent of all the others.
For this story, in fact, we will return to Misaki, the town where Tsukihime is the event, following this time the events of Aoko Aozaki, a sorceress we already know for her presence in Tsukihime, where she helped the young Shiki to suppress his strange powers by giving him a pair of glasses able to cancel their effects, in Melty Blood and in Fate / Extra, where he helped numerous Masters strengthening their Servants.
His ability to cross timelines, we discover, is due to his possession of Magic Blue, the Fifth of the Real Magic, inherited from his family at the expense of his older sister, Tokō, who is also already known for his role as guide in Kara no Kyōkai, who despite being a more experienced and talented sorceress has a personality less suitable for using the miracles of Magic Blue.
Aoko, seventeen, studies as an apprentice under Alice Kuonji, the rumored witch of Misaki, with whom she takes care of protecting the city from hostility and intrusions.
One of these intrusions leads the wizard duo to investigate and find an enchanted puppet, which they quickly get rid of by incinerating him. The duo, however, is seen by a young boy named Sōjūrō Shizuki, who immediately tries to escape.
As we know, one of the most important rules of the Association of Magicians is that magic should not be disclosed to ordinary human beings, therefore witnesses must be immediately eliminated.
In the process of eliminating the boy, however, Aoko is attacked by a second puppet with his own features, leading the girl to put aside the execution of the young man collaborating with him to get rid of the new enemy.
The experience will lead Aoko to seek an alternative to the physical elimination of Sōjūrō, who will then begin living in Alice's mansion until the duo finds a way to erase the boy's memory.
Meanwhile, Aoko and Alice discover that the enemy that threatens Misaki is none other than the sister of the protagonist, Tokō Aozaki, who intends to reopen the connection with the Root originally sealed by the grandfather of the two.
The first thing that immediately catches the eye in Mahoyo is, without a shadow of a doubt, the quality level in visual and musical terms.
Already previously Type-Moon has proven to be remarkable in these aspects, raising the quality standards of the genre over the years, but with this latest visual novel the team has proved particularly diligent: sprites, backgrounds and CG have a resolution, detail and visual impact rendering, aspects further emphasized and strengthened by the use of effects and animations that flow perfectly, to the point of seeming almost cutscenes and raising the entire product to the visual peak of the genre.
Also from the musical point of view, as we had already been used to, Mahoyo uses his own tracks to accentuate the atmospheres and themes of the scenes that use them. In this aspect it is less prominent than it does for the visual aspect, if compared with the music of other visual novels and previous works of Type-Moon, but the soundtrack is still able to play more than effectively their work, especially in the most excited scenes.
Despite the enormous care in the production of this work, there is a strange lack of dubbing, certainly an unusual choice for a 2012 product, especially considering the resources available to the company.
Probably this choice derives from an "equalization" to the rest of the Type-Moon productions (after all none of their visual novels have ever had the dubbing in their original versions), but it still remains a dissonant note compared to the level of all the other more technical aspects by Mahoyo.
This does not mean that the lack of voices hinders the experience, which is still pleasantly enjoyable, but in the face of a technically almost flawless experience, the awareness that a dubbing could have made it even better inevitably ends up being highlighted.
A linear narrative
Beyond all this, however, what is most interesting in a work by Nasu is, as usual, writing.
Unfortunately the work, released only in Japan, has not yet been fully translated by international communities, although a large part of Mahoyo is available in multiple languages and progress is being made in this regard.
The characters are all well built avoiding the stereotypes in which the genre too often falls in favor of varied and constantly changing personalities: this can be verified immediately through Aoko, a protagonist that we already knew previously, and which is proposed here in a version much younger than we usually know, exposing a side of his personality different from the serious but pleasantly affable mentor figure known by Shiki in Tsukihime or by the funny and bizarre sorceress who can boast a vast experience and knowledge of the magical world seen in Melty Blood .
The young Aoko is an aggressive, distant character, to the point of terrifying all her peers leading her to isolate herself from her school friends and leaving her with a few friends in her social circle, reserving the same treatment to Sōjūrō.
Despite these immature aspects derived from a complicated adolescence, in which she was forced to change her lifestyle completely when she was selected as a family heir and was entrusted with a vital skill for the magical world , complicated by the tender age of the girl in this story, however, there is no lack of signs of what Aoko is destined to become once thirty, subjecting the sorceress apprentice to personal growth that will lead her to mature and become more aware of her role in complex mechanisms of the thaumaturgical world.
On the contrary, Alice shows the coldest, cynical and classic side that we have always glimpsed among the magicians of the Association: unlike her apprentice, the woman was raised immediately as a sorceress, therefore we see in her a less emotionally passionate character , more analytical, and to guide history.
Sōjūrō is instead the tool of the narrative through which the reader receives a large part of the information which, otherwise, would be superfluous to the characters who already know what they are dealing with. The boy is a simple person, sometimes naive because of his mountain origin to the point that, initially, he believed that the magic he witnessed was a common thing among the city people. This aspect of his personality often leads to rather amusing situations, in that Sōjūrō is so cut off from the common logic of society that he accepts any phenomenon normally considered anomalous as perfectly normal.
This simplicity, however, is not without its mysteries: numerous details of the past and its history are often hidden, to the point of intriguing also the other protagonists, and the more the young person shows off the more the mysteries increase, opening numerous questions about the true origins of this strange boy.
Mahoyo's story is structured similarly to the previous Nasuverse visual novels, alternating scenes of narrative importance with slice of life segments that lighten the rhythm of the work in a humorous and pleasant way, although this time the quality of these scenes is much higher to the correspondents of Fate or Tsukihime.
From the point of view of length, Mahoyo is technically shorter than the Fate / stay night route, although it appears much more substantial thanks to its dynamism and the amount of information conveyed in the chapters that make up the story.
In addition to the main story, there are also extra chapters, narrated from the point of view of different characters, which often tell self-contained stories that enrich the story and further extend the content, in addition to not missing the Mahoyo equivalent of the Tiger Dojo, here entitled "Why? What? Ploy ”, humorous segments that deepen information of the story that the narration would not allow to include.
Overall then Mahōtsukai no Yoru turns out to be an exceptional job, which bodes well for the two sequels announced by Type-Moon, whose production seems unfortunately to be slowed down by the full commitment in the production of material for Fate.
The second chapter of the trilogy is in fact expected after the Tsukihime remake, which however is still far from its publication and on which concrete news has been expected for some time.
With Mahōtsukai no Yoru we have completed the path of publications regarding Nasuverse: Type-Moon is now completely focused on the continuation of Fate / Grand Order and on the publication of Girls' Work, with no new titles announced in the near future.
However, we still have a project to talk about that, even if it does not add anything substantial to the narrative universe we have explored, we find it ideal as a "icing on the cake" that can conclude our journey by celebrating the progress that, in the last 19 years , have allowed Type-Moon to grow and give space to creatives and unique creations of their kind.